In this day and age, we are somewhat lucky to have a host of health based information so readily available to us. We have access online to thousands of research studies, health articles, fitness and nutrition blogs, YouTube channels and podcasts. We can follow other people’s workout success, diets and the latest fitness crazes via social media. When we consider all the information that’s out there, and the variable credibility of resources, is it any wonder that people are often more than a little bit confused? I’m not going to lie to you, the industry is a minefield of bullsh*t.
I have previously talked about how there are no quick fixes or magic solutions when it comes to reaching long-term goals. I have to warn you now, this article is straight talking.
To be successful in anything requires the same 3 skills. The first and probably most important of these (as well as the most commonly underestimated), is…
1. Mastering the basics
It may seem obvious; but how many people truly spend time laying the foundations, or learning the fundamentals?
We don’t jump straight into calculus. To succeed, we spend time learning basic maths first. The same principle applies to conquering health, nutrition and performance goals.
Often when people start exercising, their sole focus is on constant muscle fatigue; being addicted to crawling in a pool of sweat and destroying themselves. Beginners often think they can somehow cheat time. Without allowing the body to recover and adapt progressively, they expose themselves to potential injury.
Connective tissues, including ligaments and tendons, take longer to adapt and remodel than muscle tissue. So, training needs to be progressive. Periods of overload, load, and under-load to allow time for the remodelling of both muscle and connective tissue.
Athletes, special forces soldiers, and top performers do not batter themselves in every single training session. They need to recover in time to do the next training session, which could be later that day.
To progress in anything, you must first accept where you are now. Be honest with yourself about where you are. You are not responsible for the hand you have been dealt, you cannot change your genetics, but you are responsible for maximising the potential of what you have been given.
If you want to increase your athletic potential, and have spent several years sitting at a desk, you may need to begin with a focus on regaining your body’s natural range of motion at some joints. This skill development could be overlooked, because it’s not the ‘sexy work’ that you see on Instagram or in magazines. But it is important to go slow now, in order to go fast later.
Another example would be if your goal was to reduce body fat, but you haven’t mastered the basic skill of portion control. Without this basic skill, your chance of long term success is likely to be severely compromised. You need to be honest with yourself, and put in the effort required to do it.
Improving your health, nutrition, and performance is about forming good habits, which leads me on to the second skill required for success.
Consistency over time is how habits are formed, and how success is achieved. If I told you to go home and write me a book with 365 pages by tomorrow, what’s the chances I will have a book? But if I ask you to write one page of a book every day for 365 days, then in a year I will have a book with 365 pages. If we look at the thickness of the book, then 365 pages has made quite a thick book. However, if you had taken one page on its own at the beginning of the writing process, it could seem almost negligible. Why bother with the effort of writing one page? Because without that one page, and another one page, and another…we do not end up with a book.
What may seem small in the beginning, is what leads to the big change later on. If you start practicing something for 10 minutes today, that is 10 minutes more practice than you did yesterday. That seems relatively small and some would consider it almost pointless. But look at the book scenario; in 1 year that 10 minutes per day has amounted to over 60 hours of practice. Imagine what you could have achieved with 60 hours’ practice.
Biologically, your body is either thriving and growing, or declining and decaying. There is no escape from that. So in terms of your strength, fitness, and athletic ability; consistency is needed in order for your body to thrive. Muscle tissue is metabolically expensive for your body to maintain; it requires more calories than other body tissues. If you don’t use it, your body will start breaking it down.
You cannot ditch exercise for 12 months, and expect your body to stay in the same condition. It’s a life time thing. You must therefore find your flavour of fitness and stick to it. Whether it’s playing team sports, hiking, surfing, or whatever. Do what you enjoy, because it needs to be forever.
The final skill for success…
A World class athlete did not start training yesterday. Success is not linear; it peaks and troughs. It is important to deal with frustration, by managing your own expectations. Do not set yourself up to feel frustration, by having unreasonable expectations about what you can achieve. That’s not to say you shouldn’t strive to push yourself, but don’t cause yourself unnecessary frustration by going into every training session expecting the whole thing to be perfect.
Understand that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
The important thing is to show up, do the work in the form of meaningful practice, and go home. Repeat this process, and you are guaranteed success.
Stay tuned for more on this; including discussions of how to nail the basics of nutrition, and how to form good habits. If you have any comments to share, please visit the Clean Food Queen Facebook page.